Dog Stories: Dean Koontzs Five Favorite Canine Books | Reader's Digest

Dog Stories: Dean Koontz’s Five Favorite Canine Books

The famous author and dog lover recommends top inspirational stories to read now.

by Dean Koontz from "The Literarian"

Dog Stories: Dean Koontz’s Five Favorite Canine Books
Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote
This is a wonderful, wonderful book about the love of a man for a dog and a dog for a man. It is rich with sentiment but never falls into sentimentality. I am known to have no patience for books about dogs who are portrayed as goofy screwups and agents of chaos, as these always strike me as exploitative nonsense written by clueless people who were themselves the causes of their dogs’ neuroses. Mr. Kerasote understands his dog, Merle, the depth of canine intelligence, and the beauty of the canine heart. He is also not afraid to write of his own feelings with a tenderness that is at once masculine and universal. Perhaps the best memoir of a dog ever written.

Dogs & Devotion by The Monks of New Skete
The monks breed and train German shepherds and have written several bestselling books about them. This excellent little book takes such qualities of a dog as playfulness, humility, and fidelity and, with a picture matched with fewer than 100 words per topic, invites the reader to meditate on the virtues of dogs and what we can learn from them. Not heavy intellectual stuff but simple, true, touching.

Pukka: The Pup After Merle by Ted Kerasote
Revelation: I don’t know Ted Kerasote, but he did give a favorable review of my memoir of Trixie, A Big Little Life, which delighted me because I so like the two books of his I have listed here. I assure you, I can’t be bought for a good review. I can’t even be rented. Pukka was published in 2010, and for a beautifully produced book rich in color and photography, its $18.95 price is an unbelievable bargain. The photographs are some of the most charming dog shots and most arresting nature photos I’ve ever seen, and by the time you’ve paged through it over and over (which you will do), you have come to know Pukka and to have glimpsed Kerasote’s life as well. It’s a window into another life that looks highly appealing, but it also captures the adventure of puppyhood and the joy in life that dogs know and can teach us.


Dean Koontz’s books, published in 38 languages, have sold over 450 million copies worldwide. He and his wife, Gerda, are major contributors to Canine Companions for Independence, a charity that provides highly trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities, free of charge.

  • Your Comments

    • KJ Mansfield

      Unlike Dean Koontz, who’s a brilliant and prolific author, I have managed to write just one book, so far. The Flyball 5: The adventures of 5 abandoned puppies.
      Here’s a brief version of why I decided to write the book.
      On a sultry summer’s day as a three years old, I climbed out of a window when I was supposed to be having an afternoon nap and wandered off to the local train station and on to the tracks.
      Luckily for me, the family dog, a Boxer named Raf, jumped out of the window after me and kept me company, instinctively pushing me away whenever I ventured near any of the electric rails that would have given me a fatal shock if I had touched one of them.
      Raf, who later had 13 puppies in a single litter, undoubtedly saved my life that day.
      The books Dean discusses in his article are classics of their kind and the only person ever likely to mention my book in the same context as them is me.
      First and foremost, The Flyball 5 is intended to be an entertaining read but, hopefully, it just might encourage kindness towards dogs too.